Our clients tend to ask a lot of questions. They want to know how long their volunteer background checks will take. And, of course, how much they will cost. They want to know if the data we collect from their volunteers is safe and secure. These are all great questions and at Verified Volunteers we are always more than willing to hop on a call to go over them with our clients and potential clients.

One thing we’ve noticed over the years is that a lot of the questions have become more tactical, more about impact to a pre-existing piece of technology or administrative workload. These are also important questions, but I think it’s key to always bring the conversations back to the primary objective of any screening program. How can we run the highest quality, quickest, most cost-effective and compliant background check possible?

Below are 5 questions organizations should be asking their volunteer background screening provider:

1. How can I make sure I am compliant?

There is a huge assortment of regulatory agencies, state and local government agencies, and consumer rights advocates, all with a vested interest in ensuring that the background screening process is as accurate and transparent as possible. It makes sense. No one wants to report inaccurate information or make onboarding decisions based on that information. That’s why you need to take every precaution to safeguard your organization. Ask your current partner to evaluate your screening program. Are you following the necessary steps outlined in the Adverse Action process?  If you’re not, make changes to ensure you are moving forward. You don’t want to find yourself at the center of a lawsuit from a volunteer you’ve wrongfully denied.  

2. When it comes to volunteer background screening, what should I be doing?

The background screening landscape changes quickly. Products and services that didn’t exist just a few years ago are now routine, inexpensive components of today’s screening program. Think about when you first established your screening program. If it was over a year ago, revisit it and make sure it’s up to date and in keeping with screening best practices. Schedule an account review with your screening provider. They can help you identify potential gaps and work with you on how to fill them.

3. When it comes to volunteer background screening, what should I not be doing?

You might be surprised to hear that some screening services can become obsolete over time. And there are some screening tools that simply aren’t very valuable for certain volunteers. Think about the volunteer positions you are screening for. Is it really important for you to know what your potential volunteer is up to on Facebook – or can you save time and cut out the social media portion of your search?  Is your volunteer driving on behalf of your organization? If not, Motor Vehicle Record checks won’t be necessary.

4. What role does technology play?

As you are well aware, technology changes and improves constantly. Background screening providers now have access to more information and they can get at that information faster. On the organization side, technology can force you to make choices. Ask for too much information up front on a volunteer application and volunteers may bow out early. If you ask for too little, you risk onboarding an unscrupulous volunteer.  You want to be sure to put processes in place that help volunteer managers save time – but not at the expense of background check quality. It’s a balance. Make sure you strike the right one.

5. Who am I doing this for?

Who are the key stakeholders within your organization? Identify them and know whose interests win out when they conflict. More comprehensive background checks may take longer and cost more, but risk is better managed. Keep in mind that volunteers may opt out or move on to a different organization while waiting for their check.  Is everyone who is involved in the process okay with that? Think through various scenarios like that and modify your screening policy to reflect the goals of your organization.

At Verified Volunteers, we get to see how thousands of organizations run their volunteer background screening program.  We also have solutions and recommendations for anyone with questions about their screening program. Do you have questions? Let us know!


  • Get Adverse Action Dos' ad Don't's 
  • Get your Sample Volunteer Background Screening Policy


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